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When I was a kid, back in the days before even those excruciatingly edifying Afterschool Specials began to plague daytime TV and the talk shows were Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore rather than Jerry Springer and Oprah, there was a terrific series of Animated Classics that were broadcast in the afternoons.  They were, as far as I can recall, pretty faithful to the original stories, though obviously abridged and edited.  I remember two in particular, The Count of Monte Cristo and Cyrano de Bergerac.  The appeal of these two, despite their French provenance, is obvious--what more can a kid ask for than a great swashbuckler?  Then, as if this cartoon version wasn't enough, I saw the 1950 Jose Ferrer film version of Cyrano and was hooked on the story for life.

Rostand's is just one of several fictions to be based on the life of the historical Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-55).  Set in the reign of Louis XIII, the play, of course. tells the story of the fiercely independent swordsmen, poet, playwright and political pamphleteer with the prodigious proboscis, of his unspoken love for his cousin Roxanne and of his intercession on behalf of his beautiful fellow guardsman Christian de Neuvillette, on whose behalf he surreptitiously woos her.

Now when you're a kid, you can hardly see past the dueling and brawling.  I mean, obviously the point is that the guy is lovable despite his beak, but c'mon, the love parts are yucky anyway.  But returning to the story as an adult, Rostand's other themes emerge, particularly Cyrano's insistence on meeting life on his own terms.  If his failure to realize Roxanne's love remains tragic, his Quixotic nature, his enduring political independence and personal integrity, serve to make him one of the great heroes in all of literature.

Blending swordplay, comedy, tragedy and romance in equal measure, this is truly one of the most thrilling dramas of all time.  If you can find the cartoon version, by all means watch it.  In the meantime, instead of renting Lethal Weapon # 8, next time you're at the video store look for Jose Ferrer as Cyrano or buy a copy from Amazon for 7 bucks.  It's well worth the price of two rentals; I guarantee you watch it more than once.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

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See also:

Classics
Plays
Book-related and General Links:
    -Encyclopaedia Britannica: Your search: "edmond rostand"
    -Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655)(kirjasto)
    -Edmond (Eugège Alexix) Rostand (1868-1918)(kirjasto)
    -SHORT BIO: EDMOND ROSTAND - French Dramatist  (Discover France)
    -Cyrano de Bergerac Web Site
    -Cyrano's Notes by David Claudon  A website devoted to illustrations and notes on the play
    -ETEXT:  (Translated from the French by Gladys Thomas and Mary F. Guillemard)
    -ANNOTATED ETEXT: (Self Knowledge)
    -ARTICLE: Duel of the masters (Al-Ahram Weekly)
    -World's 100 Greatest Books (InteliQuest)

FILM:
    -REVIEW: of French version (1990) directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -REVIEW: of 1990 French version, director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau (John Hartl, film.com)

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